Sharing in victory at the Aramco Team Series in Jeddah last year was more than just a welcome boost towards the end of a long season for England’s Hannah Burke.
It also marked her first success since being sidelined by injury in 2019, losing sponsors and then having to take more time away from competition because of the pandemic.
And perhaps most importantly of all, the spoils of being part of Emily Kristine Pedersen’s winning team also ensured Burke finished the campaign in profit.
“It was a lot of fun. I got lucky, really. Em picked me – I played with her when she first joined the tour in a team thing in Japan and we hit it off then – so we know each other pretty well,” said Burke.
“Money-wise it probably tipped my season. I haven’t had any sponsors so it was kind of a make-or-break tournament for me and meant that I made money, which is what we’re out here to do.
“With Covid and injuries the last couple of years has been an uphill battle so it was nice to be working hard and getting a good result out of it. I played well the week before in the individual event and kept my tour card too so it was a big two weeks for me.”
Had she not finished the 2021 Ladies European Tour season in style, Burke admits she would probably have had to reconsider her career choices.
“If you’re not making any money then it’s not really viable,” she said. “I would have probably had to find something else to do which I’d probably have got really bored doing.”
Instead the 34-year-old has built on that reprieve at Royal Greens with a promising first half of the 2022 season.
Burke finished tied for third and tied for sixth in consecutive weeks in tournaments in Australia before getting to captain her own mixed fourball at the first Aramco Team Series event of the year in Bangkok last month.
“The momentum has continued and I feel like physically I’m back where I want to be, where I was before I had my injury in 2019. I was working hard with my coach in the off-season and was ready to get the season started.
“I’ve done a couple of laps of the world already and enjoyed living out of a suitcase again. I’m enjoying being back to a bit of normality rather than being stuck in bubbles, maybe playing the odd week and then having a couple of weeks at home. You can gain a bit of momentum and play a lot of events this year which is always good.
“Golf is really hard, so anything can happen – that’s what I’ve learned over the years. You’ve just got to go with the highs and know there are going to be lows. At the moment I’m really enjoying my golf and am getting out what I’ve been putting into it the last year or so work-wise.”
Burke has taken to the Aramco Team Series format, which sees players compete as individuals as well as in their teams of four over three days of action at tournaments each worth $1m.
“I think they’re really fun. You can play a lot more aggressively, which is good. I like the team aspect of it,” she said.
“We don’t have anything else like it on our schedule, so it mixes it up a little bit. You get to meet lots of people, different courses, and the set-up is really good. We get treated really well.”
She has extra reason to look forward to this week’s second leg in the series, at Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, which is a short pitch from her home in Welwyn Garden City.
Massive for Burke
“It’s massive and it’s a home event for me – my home club is Mid Herts, which is just the other side of St Albans,” said Burke.
“I’ll have a lot of local support, which will be really nice. I’ll have one of my friends caddying for me, and a lot of my family will come and watch. I’m excited to be sleeping in my own bed.
“I remember playing it [Centurion Club] when it first opened, and it’s changed so much since then. I feel like it’s maturing very quickly and always in such immaculate condition.
“Quick greens. The rough was grown out for us [last year] which I think a lot of the amateurs struggled with. And the clubhouse is stunning. So as a setting it’s a pretty cool place.”
Could that help Burke taste victory again? “Winning is very hard! It will just be nice, the normality of having crowds. Last year we had some but we still had quite a few restrictions in place.
“The idea of having more freedom, a lot more people there to take in the experience with us, is something we don’t take for granted any more. It’ll be good to walk around, see a lot of familiar faces and hopefully have a lot of fun.”